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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #348935

Research Project: Sarcopenia, Nutrition, and Physical Activity

Location: Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging

Title: Collaborative evaluation of the healthy habits program: an effective community intervention to improve mobility and cognition of Chinese older adults living in the U.S

Author
item Hau, Cynthia - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Reid, Kieran - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item Wong, Kit - Ymca Of Greater Boston
item Chin, Richard - Ymca Of Greater Boston
item Botto, Timothy - Ymca Of Greater Boston
item Eliasziw, Misha - Tufts University
item Bermudez, Odilia - Tufts University
item Fielding, Roger - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University

Submitted to: Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/22/2015
Publication Date: 11/18/2015
Citation: Hau, C., Reid, K.F., Wong, K.F., Chin, R.J., Botto, T.J., Eliasziw, M., Bermudez, O.I., Fielding, R.A. 2015. Collaborative evaluation of the healthy habits program: an effective community intervention to improve mobility and cognition of Chinese older adults living in the U.S. Journal of Nutrition Health and Aging. 20(4):391-397. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-015-0623-8.

Interpretive Summary: There is a growing demand to reduce ethnic health disparities. In response, the Healthy Habits Program (HHP) was implemented at the Wang YMCA to provide a 6-month, community-based physical activity and nutrition education intervention for Chinese older adults living in Boston, MA. Evaluation of the HHP was performed previously and revealed its positive effects on body weight, blood pressure, chair stand time, one-leg stand time, and emotional well-being. However, functional measures relevant to predicting disability and institutionalization have not yet been examined. Therefore, this study was conducted to further evaluate the HHP by assessing changes in outcomes that are important for older adults. Tests examining mobility, cognition, executive function, muscle strength, and nutritional status were performed. Self-reported measures of depressive symptoms and perceived disability were also assessed. To ensure cultural appropriateness, all tests were translated in Chinese and administered in the preferred language of the respondent (i.e. English, Cantonese, Mandarin, or Taishanese.) A community engagement approach was employed, in which the Wang YMCA staff members were trained to conduct all assessments. This study revealed that the HHP was effective in improving mobility, cognition, executive function, depressive symptoms, and perceived disability. The gains in physical and cognitive function were substantial and may have important implications for the health of older adults. These findings reveal the potential of promoting successful aging in minority populations through community settings and should be advocated to reduce ethnic health disparities in the U.S.

Technical Abstract: Objectives: There is a growing demand to reduce ethnic health disparities. The Healthy Habits Program (HHP) was implemented to provide a community-based physical activity and education intervention for Chinese older adults living in Boston, Massachusetts. This study evaluated the HHP by assessing outcomes that are critical for maintaining independence of older persons. Design, setting & participants: Quantitative evaluation was performed on 50 Chinese older adults enrolled in the HHP. The community members were trained in data collection and management. Measurements: Cognition (Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE), Trail Making Test & Complex Walking Task), mobility (Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) & maximal gait speed), depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), perceived disability (World Health Organization Disability Assessment 2.0), nutritional status (Mini Nutrition Assessment), and strength (grip and leg strength) were assessed at baseline and at 6 months. All tests were translated into Chinese. Results: Of the 50 participants (mean age 68.4 years; 68% female), 78% achieved the goal of performing exercise >/= 3 times/week. After 6 months, clinically meaningful improvements were observed in mobility (mean SPPB score changed from 10.3 to 11.1 points; p=0.01) and cognition (mean MMSE score changed from 26.0 to 27.8 points; p=0.001). There were also statistically significant improvements in executive function, depressive symptoms and perceived disability (p<0.05). Conclusion: Culturally sensitive community interventions, such as the HHP, are effective for improving mobility and cognition of Chinese older adults. This reveals the potential of promoting successful aging in minority populations through community settings, and should be advocated to reduce ethnic health disparities in the U.S.